The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

11.1.2 Financial wellbeing support services supporting welfare payments reform


The Australian Government recognises the important role of charities and not-for-profit organisations in our society and is committed to empowering organisations to deliver services that respond to the needs of their community.

Through the Financial Wellbeing and Capability (FWC) Activity, the Government provides support to eligible individuals and families to navigate financial crisis and build financial wellbeing, financial capability, and resilience for vulnerable people and those most at risk of financial exclusion and disadvantage.

Services provided under the FWC Activity include crisis support, broad financial capability building services, financial counselling, and access to microfinance products. Services are free, voluntary and confidential and are delivered by community and local government organisations.

Available services are outlined below with further information on the Financial Wellbeing and Capability page on the DSS website.

Emergency Relief

Emergency Relief services provide immediate financial or material aid to eligible people and can act as a safety net for people experiencing financial distress or hardship, and who have limited means or resources to help them alleviate their financial crisis. Access to Emergency Relief is free and available to people who are not able to pay a bill or at imminent risk of not being able to pay a bill.

Types of assistance offered by Emergency Relief providers may include food, clothing, vouchers (for example, for supermarket, utilities or petrol), budgeting assistance and/or referral to other services.

Commonwealth Financial Counselling & Financial Capability

Commonwealth Financial Counselling and Financial Capability (CFC/FC) services are delivered by community and local government organisations to help people in personal financial difficulty address their financial issues, manage debt and make informed choices about their money in the future.

Services are voluntary, free, and confidential and can be accessed through:

  • face-to-face meetings, or
  • the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 (calls from public phones or mobile phones may be timed and charged at a higher rate), or
  • the National Debt Helpline website.

Financial Resilience/Microfinance

Financial Resilience/Microfinance provides financially vulnerable people with access to safe and affordable financial products including no interest loans, low interest loans, microenterprise development loans, and matched savings that are not available through mainstream providers of financial services. These products are offered as an alternative to other high risk, high interest products such as payday loans.

The products are provided in conjunction with financial literacy education to improve financial capacity and lead to greater self-reliance, assisting people to build assets, develop savings and commence on the pathway to financial inclusion.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Microenterprise Development

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Microenterprise Development supports those on a low income to increase their business-planning and workforce skills; develop sustainable microenterprises (where appropriate); and create opportunities for employment, including self-employment.

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